The conversation around the scourge of lootboxes isn’t going away just yet. Now that governments and legislators have started weighing up whether or not they’re akin to gambling, it’s a conversation we’re likely to see for the foreseeable future.
I firmly believe that there are good implementations of lootboxes, as well as the poor ones that are raising the sort of consumer ire that we saw with Star Wars: Battlefront II. Lootboxes that offer little more than customisation options and skins as in Overwatch? Those are fine by me, as they have no bearing on the game itself. You get those that aren’t explicitly awful, but sit straddling a fence, like the ones in Shadow of War. While unnecessary, they could affect core game.
Then you get the ones that are intrinsically tied to progression, as in Battlefront II and Need for Speed Payback. When a roll of the digital dice determines your lot, then there’s something wrong – and that’s ably demonstrated by a new mod for the 1993 classic FPS DOOM, which adds lootboxes to a game that shouldn’t have them.
A new mod created by “Rip and Tear” replaces all of the game’s usual weapon and power-up pickups with UAC crates. To open those crates players need keys, which randomly spawn from enemy kills. Open those lootboxes provides players with a random weapon or powerup, of differing rarities. While you may often be given a shotgun, the chances of getting bigger, badder weapons like the BFG are significantly slimmer. It perfectly highlights how much of a grind these sorts of systems are, as players will often have to kill wave of grunts just on the chance of getting a key, which gets the chance of getting a decent weapon.
What makes this mod even more effective in highlighting the issue is that it fatures a paid marketplace, letting users buy keys and crate bundles. Only the purchasing options are all disabled, because Doom is a game from 1993. In future, games that have lootboxes tied to their progression will likely not have functioning servers, making them impossible to adequately archive, and impossible to play the way that we play retro games today.
Last Updated: November 27, 2017